NPR Will Lay Off 13 Employees, Furlough Others for Five Days

By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 24, 2009

National Public Radio said yesterday it will lay off 13 employees and furlough all of its employees for five days over the next five months in the latest round of belt-tightening by the Washington-based organization.

The cuts are part of a series of measures that will help NPR close a projected $8 million budget gap during its current fiscal year, and $15 million over the next two years.

In addition to the furloughs, employees also will not be paid for three holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day) this year, and three more when its new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

Like many news-media organizations, NPR has been grappling with reduced revenue; in December, as its fiscal crisis deepened, it laid off 64 employees, or 7 percent of the staff, and eliminated two daily radio programs, "Day to Day" and "News and Notes." It was NPR's first layoff in 25 years.

As part of its latest cutback, the nonprofit broadcaster will also eliminate contributions to employee retirement accounts through the end of the current fiscal year, and will cut the contributions by half next year. It will also eliminate merit raises next year.

The latest job cuts were in the information technology, legal services and communications departments and won't affect programming, NPR said.

NPR has been hammered by declining revenue from its four major sources of funding: corporate sponsors, fees from more than 800 public radio stations that carry its programs, donations from foundations and income from an internal endowment.

The reductions will put NPR on track to meet its budgets, but NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm could not say whether the worst was over. "I don't think anyone can predict what's going to happen," she said. "We think this is a very prudent and reasonable plan."

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